Monday, March 15, 2010

LOVELY BONES - Elegant But Disappointing

THE LOVELY BONES (murder drama)
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Saoirse Ronan (pic, below), Michael Imperioli, Amanda Michalka and Nikki SooHoo,
Director: Peter Jackson
Screenplay: Peter Jackson from the bestseller by Alice Sebold
Time: 132 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: I have not read Alice Sebold's novel but I can imagine how Peter Jackson can get carried by its narrative to the point of being self-indulgent. Yes, far from being as engaging as his Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Lovely Bones hints of an artist gone daft, colouring the tale about a murdered teenager in hues of psychedelia. Yes, that and toying around with special effects...

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? No spoilers here but 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is murdered by her neighbour George Harvey (Stanley Tucci) while returning home from school one day. She tells us all this at the start of the movie from her 'vantage' point in heaven where she watches as her father (Mark Wahlberg) and sister Lindsey (Rose McIver) become obsessed with finding her killer.

Meanwhile, her 'boyfriend' (Reece Ritchie) and a glum school friend (Carolyn Dando) grow closer, her mother (Rachel Weisz) drifts apart, and Harvey continues living his lonely life undetected...

HITS & MISSES: It would not be fair to dismiss The Lovely Bones as a total washout. The cast, including Ronan, Tucci and Wahlberg, are commendable, evoking strong emotions from the audience. Susan Sarandon provides the humour as the Salmon's granny who drinks and smokes like there's no tomorrow.

What sinks the movie - and sucks it down like the sinkhole of the narrative - is the frivilous way Jackson unravels the plot, alternating between presenting the film as a murder mystery and a supernatural retribution story. In the end, we get a serial-killer mystery, a teenage melodrama, a family tragedy and a celestial ghost story all rolled into one.

THE LOWDOWN: Muddled and disappointing.


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